Plastic-consuming caterpillars can help fight pollution: Study

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Mar 05, 2020, 01:21 PM(IST)

Plastic-eating tiny waxworms (Image courtesy: Royal Society) Photograph:( Others )

Story highlights

Scientists believe that they are capable of doing this due to their gut bacteria or microbiome.

Tiny waxworms who gorge on plastic can potentially help in combatting pollution, as per a new study.

Scientists believe that they are capable of doing this due to their gut bacteria or microbiome.

Also read: A very hungry caterpillar invades Asia

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"We found that waxworm caterpillars are endowed with gut microbes that are essential in the plastic biodegradation process, " said Christophe LeMoine, co-author of the study and a professor of biology at Brandon University in Canada.

Watch: Changing India: City Spaces & The Golden Caterpillar

"This process seems reliant on a synergy between the caterpillars and their gut bacteria to accelerate polyethylene degradation," he added.

According to scientists, such plastic-consuming caterpillars can solve one of the world's most pressing issues, that is, pollution as they consume even polyethylene which is a common and non-biodegradable plastic currently clogging up landfills and seas.

Also read: Drought, pests could force India to grant duty-free corn imports

The team found the wax worms broke down polyethylene plastic bags faster than other methods.

However, they believe that these creatures were not an immediate solution to plastic pollution, with still more work to be done to understand how the caterpillars and the microbes in their digestive tract work together before it can be adapted and replicated on a large scale.

Read in App